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Posts Tagged ‘TPPA’

Letter to the editor – Annette King on the TPPA

8 October 2015 6 comments
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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date: Wed, Oct 7, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor

Sunday Star Times

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From a sound-bite aired on  TV1 News on 7 October,  Annette King criticised the recently-agreed TPPA for denying New Zealand the right to choose it’s own destiny with regards to land and house ownership. She said that as a future Labour-led government;

“We retain the right under any trade deal to put the sovereignty of New Zealand first.”

Those are powerful words.

Question is; will a Labour-led government exercise that right?

After Helen Clark’s recent disappointing performance, I am not reassured.

Frank Macskasy

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[Address & phone number supplied]

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Public opposition grows against TPPA – Wellington

22 August 2015 7 comments

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NZ, Wellington, 15 August – In an otherwise grey, gloomy sky, much-heralded  rain made only a brief appearance with a few drops of moisture, as Wellingtonians and citizens from further afar congregated at Midland Park in the heart of the city. The first sign was held aloft on the footpath, just outside the park proper – an indication of what lay ahead;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Some artistry adorning poster roundels;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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A damned good question posed on this placard;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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A wide variety of other placards awaited bearers;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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John Key has said that even if the medicines that Pharmac buys “cost a little bit more“, that government will pay for it and citizens will not have to pay a cent extra;

“If it did pay a little bit more, then the Government would fund that and New Zealanders would pay the same amount.”

Firstly – where does Key think the money comes from that Government would use to top up Pharmac’s drugs-bill in the event that the TPPA pushed up the costs of medication?  From the bloody tax-payer, you Tory Twat!

Secondly, having to pay for increased costs of medicines would mean that other areas of healthcare would inevitably  have their budgets cut.

And thirdly, Key is in no position to promise anything on keeping the cost of medicines down. His government has already  increased the cost of Pharmac medicines in 2012 from $3  to $5.

Who on Earth would trust Key not to do it again?

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The ‘Brass Razoo‘ band entertained the crowd, with “Uncle Scam” danced to the ominous sounding “Star Wars Imperial Theme“;

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New Zealanders voicing their concerns over the secrecy over the TPPA;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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If the deal is so good – why is the National Government keeping it secret from us? Negotiators from all participating counties know exactly what is in the texts. Only the public are not privy to the same information.

From a phrase that TPPA negotiator, Minister  Tim Groser, has been known to use;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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“Obama” being “arrested” by “pirates”, and charged with “treason”;

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The media was well represented, and both TV channels gave good coverage of the protests up and down the country;

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From younger to older generations;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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The Park quickly filled. Numbers swelled well beyond previous anti-TPPA protests;

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Marchers moved through Wellington’s CBD, growing in number along the way;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Traffic came to a standstill, as the procession wound along the length of Lambton Quay, toward Parliament;

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Past the Cenotaph, where we commemorate fallen soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our sovereignty;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Once again, as with past protest marches,  the main gates to Parliament were firmly locked…

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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… forcing thousands of citizens to squeeze through two narrow side gates. The contempt shown by those in ‘Authority’, to the New Zealand people exercising their lawful right to protest,  is unmistakeable.

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With young citizens leading the way…

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– the grounds rapidly filled with people;

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Numbers ranged from   Radio NZ’s 3,000 to Fairfax’s 5,000 in attendance. The northward view;

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The southward view;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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It was interesting (and refreshing) to  see the large numbers of families and young people present. This was not simply a turn-out of the usual, committed, anti-TPPA activists – these were citizens expressing their disquiet (and outright opposition) over a deal being negotiated in secret, and which would have far-reaching ramifications for our society.

Tangata Whenua showed their concerns at the secret TPPA deal-making that was going on in our name, behind closed doors;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Secretary of the NZ Council of Trade Unions, Sam Huggard, explained why the TPPA would be bad for workers rights. He gave the example of trans-national corporations suing the Egyptian government for merely trying to implement a minimum wage;

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The big corporations, when they were cooking up this agreement in their high rises in Wall Street and Washington DC, and the politicians like John Key and Tim Groser who do their bidding, were hoping that the agreement would go through without this level of dissent.  We weren’t meant to have a say, that wasn’t in their model.
They weren’t counting on the health sector mobilising over access to medicines.  They didn’t want Maori mobilising to question how Treaty of Waitangi protections were being affected by this secret agreement.  They were hoping the tech sector wouldn’t get organised around the impact on copyright laws.   And they didn’t want to see unions critiquing the anti-worker provisions in the TPPA, like the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, provisions that were recently used against the government of Egypt – sued by French multinational Veolia Group in response to Egypt increasing the minimum wage.
None of this was part of the plan.  They wanted the agreement to go through quietly.  But we wont let that happen.

Gay Keating, from Doctors for Healthy Trade, explaining why the TPPA will harm healthcare in New Zealand;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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Someone did the sums that its going to cost a billion over ten years if they stretch out the costs for the length of patents.

[…]

One of the things that’s pushed so many people in the health sector into being absolutely furious about this agreement is that is the wayit’s going to push people who are healthy, into sickness.

And it’s the processes which make it more difficult for countries to bring in controls on unhealthy products.

You’ve all heard about the $50 million pricetag that Australia’s facing in terms of Stage One of the fightback [by] the tobacco companies.

That’s what we’re signing up to in this agreement.

[…]

The biggest health threat of our century and our children’s century and our moko’s century is climate change.

We need to be able to control greenhouse gases and we need not be handcuffed.

Our government must not be handcuffed for health.

Todd Rippon, from Actors Equity NZ, detailed how a previous “free trade” agreement had reduced the amount of locally produced drama on our television screens. He said the TPPA would be even worse;

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Performer’s lives are directly affected by trade policy. We have been hit hard with the blunt end of a big stick by that World Trade Organisation deal.

We know what it feels like to be cast aside to make way for extremely rich US corporations. I think you know what I’m talking about, yeah?

Signing the TPPA will not only make a bad situation worse for us performers, but it’ll make it worse for virtually every aspect our beautiful country.

Every aspect of our beautiful, tiny, vulnerable country.

Nothing will be untouched.

You name it; health, environment, education, Treaty obligations – no way. They will be wiped out in the name of international profiteering.

Don’t let that happen!

Documentary producer, Bryan Bruce, was well-received by the crowd and spoke well about the nature and problems of the TPPA. He condemned the potential eight to ten year extension of patents for medicines, saying that this would inevitably lead to people dying needlessly for want of treatment;

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What’s on the table is human misery. The poor have as much right to health as the rich.

Bryan  concluded with this warning for National if they went ahead and passed the TPPA;

We will not forget and we will not forgive them.

To  listen to Bryan’s thought-provoking speech, go to  Mick McCrohon’s video on Youtube.

Blues singer, Darren Watson and Delia Shanly on drums entertained the assembly with a rendition of  ‘Planet Key’. The  words were slightly amended to reflect on the issue-of-the-day. He also sang another of his original songs, ‘I Got Your Office Right Here‘, full of satire and good natured poking-fun-at-John Key.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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One lone female protestor managed to evade the barriers and Parliamentary security. She made her way to the top of the steps and sat down, adopting a peaceful meditating-position;

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Other protestors also jumped or skirted the barriers to dance on the Parliamentary forecourt, as Mick McCrohon’s video on Youtube  shows.

It should be pointed out that though protestors “breached the security cordon”, they did not – as the Police and Mainstream Media have reported – try to “storm the steps of Parliament”. That never happened. (In fact, if any mainstream media were present when this occurred, I did not witness their presence.)

A video-recording in my possession clearly shows young people rushing to the steps, and then sitting down on the first half dozen steps  – before police arrived to reinforce the half-dozen Parliamentary security guards standing over the protestors. The handful of protestors made no effort to “storm” the steps, as some have mistakenly claimed. They stopped and sat down before Police arrived (which my video also clearly shows).

See: Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Eventually, the protest ended and the good people of Wellington (and further afield) dispersed;

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As they arrived, they departed; in peace.

Let us hope that this National government has received the message they left.

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References

Parliament: Little, Andrew – Oral Questions — Questions to Ministers

Fairfax media: Prescription cost to rise to help pay for Budget

Parliament: 7. Trans-Pacific Partnership—Scope of Negotiations and Release of Information

Huffington Post: Corporate Courts – A Big Red Flag on ‘Trade’ Agreements

Youtube: TPPA PROTEST Wellington 15th.August 2015 Speaker Bryan Bruce

Youtube: TPPA Protest – Dancers Storm The Barricades At NZ Parliament Building

Acknowledgement

Appreciation to Mick McCrohons Youtube video’s, to complete this report.

Main Stream Media

Fairfax media: Thousands march against TPP trade agreement

NZ Herald: Thousands rally against TPP across New Zealand

Otago Daily Times: Thousands turn up to rally against TPP

RadioLive: Thousands urge govt. to ditch TPPA

Radio NZ: Thousands turn out to protest TPP

TV3 News: Thousands march against TPPA deal

TVNZ News: TPP protesters push through barriers at Parliament

Previous related blogposts

Roosting chickens

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Other blogs

No Right Turn: Help end TPP secrecy

Theocracidal: Thousands Protest TPPA, Cthulhu’s office minions hide under desks

The Standard: Groser – an arrogant git with a tin ear

The Standard: TPPA Protest review

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Screen-Shot-2015-07-30-at-6.08.04-am

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 August 2015.

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Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

21 August 2015 3 comments

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NZ, Wellington, 15  August – Anti-TPPA protesters, many of them young people in their teens and early 20s, faced off against police armed with tasers on the steps of Parliament.

Believed to be the first time that armed police have deployed tasers in a non-violent, non-threatening situation, at least five police officers were visibly carrying the potentially lethal devices on their belts;

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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At least five  weapons were clearly visible, with other policemen and woman wearing bulky jackets that may or may not have concealed more of the devices.

Though there was some minor jostling between one protester and a Parliamentary security guard, there was no violence or any other physical contact between police and members of the public.

The confrontation began when a lone protester made her way to the top of the Parliamentary steps, and seated herself, adopting a meditating position. For a short time, three police attempted to persuade her to move, though no force was used.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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She was followed by others, who also jumped or skirted around the security fence separating the grassy area from the paved Parliamentary forecourt.

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As their numbers swelled to approximately a hundred, extra police arrived quickly and with Parliamentary Security, formed a cordon across the steps leading up to Parliament.

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March organisors and Marshalls attempted to quell the situation by asking people to move back from the steps, without much success.

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Eventually,  jostling and shouting gave way to a calmer atmosphere as March organisors encouraged a constant stream of speakers to address the crowd. The tiny volatile minority, numbering perhaps half a dozen, joined others seated on the steps. One activist played his guitar and sang songs, though at one point he declined a request for “anything by Dave Dobbin“.

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TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015

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After about a hour, the crowd on the Parliamentary forecourt dispersed of their own volition. Police numbers also reduced, with officers leaving the scene.

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There was no apparent reason for tasers to be deployed on this occasion. The sight of these weapons incited many in the crowd to angry outbursts toward the police.

More than one person was overheard asking what possible use  four or five tasers would have been against a crowd numbering in the hundreds.

One person, who requested anonymity,  said to this blogger;

“Whoever authorised these guns to be brought out needs their head read. It’s a grim day when cops feel the need to show these things when they’re faced with ordinary New Zealanders engaged in lawful protest. It’s like something out of ‘Sleeping Dogs’.  Really, is this where we’ve ended up, armed cops facing off against women and kids? God help us.”

On this occasion, a tense situation was prevented from escalation not by show of force, but by the wit of organisors who distracted the ‘hot heads’ and encouraged dialogue and engagement.

The best strategy in this stand-off was patience.

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Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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TPPA-cartoon-trans pacific partnership

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 August 2015.

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To Annette King – we’ll hold you to that!

7 August 2015 1 comment

 

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Right up until last week, National’s ‘spin’ on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) was that it would not be permitted to impact on Pharmac or it’s ability to buy cheap, generic medicines.

Four years ago;

We have laid down the fundamentals of a position which says our public health system is not up for negotiation, not part of any trade negotiation, and I can’t conceive of any New Zealand government that would change that view.

Pharmac is an incredibly valuable institution that provides high quality medicines to many New Zealanders at very, very highly subsidised, reasonable prices. The fundamentals of that model are not up for negotiation. ” – Tim Groser, 16 November 2011

Three years ago;

If the Government agreed completely with the demands of American pharmaceutical companies, the negotiation would probably be over. It is not. It is a long, complex negotiation, and the New Zealand Government’s position is to preserve the role and effectiveness of Pharmac. ” – Bill English, 6 December 2012

Two years ago;

I think it’ll have a very marginal impact, at the end of the day.  It certainly won’t result in higher prices for pharmaceutical products for New Zealanders.  This is really about protecting the model of Pharmac to ensure that they’re in a tough negotiating position with international pharmaceutical companies, and we’ve got some very good negotiators who are doing just that. ” – Tim Groser, 

Last year;

There will be no fundamental change in Pharmac’s operations as a result of the trade agreement.”

You’ll have to wait to see the final agreement but any decisions we take in terms of trade-offs will protect the essential public health system of this country.” – Tim Groser, 22 October 2014

And this year, only a week ago;

“…yes, I can guarantee that we’ve made it absolutely clear that we are not going to dismantle the fundamental of Pharmac. The provisions that guarantee affordable medicines – we don’t want to change the system of health we’ve got in our country so that people can get medicines only if they can afford it. We’ve got a very good system, and we’re not going to let any trade agreement interfere with that.” – Tim Groser, 25 July 2015

Barely three days later, there was this startling admission from our esteemed Dear Leader, John Key,  that all was not quite so ‘rosy’ in the Land of Free Trade Deals;

That means the Government will have to pay for the original drug rather than the generic for a little bit longer. But for consumers that won’t make any difference because, you know, on subsidised drugs you pay $5 for your prescription so the Government may incur slightly more costs there.

Which vividly illustrates how, for the past four years, National has been lying to us, the New Zealand public.

It was only as TPPA negotiations drew to a close, that Key had to finally concede that there would be an impact on Pharmac and it’s ability to purchase low-cost generic medicines. The same TPPA will also impact on non-subsidised medicines purchased by New Zealanders, as not all attract subsidies by Pharmac.

On 29 July, Labour’s response was damning of the TPPA, and Health Spokesperson, Annette King stated matter-of factly;

Some people are going to pay with their lives because if they extend the patent, particularly on drugs for cancer and heart disease, and we can’t get access to the generic drugs for longer, then people are not going to get that access and they won’t have the opportunity to extend their lives.

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“Some people are going to pay with their lives.” - Labour's Health Spokesperson, Annette King

“Some people are going to pay with their lives.” – Labour’s Health Spokesperson, Annette King

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In which case, an incoming Labour Government has two options;

1. Raise taxes for those New Zealanders who voted National last year.

This is their responsibility, and should foot the bill for any increases to Pharmac’s purchasing budget. After all, National maintains itself as the “Party of Personal Responsibility“, so National voters should bear the costs of this mess; ie, ‘You voted for it, you pay for it’.

But since it is difficult to ascertain who voted for National last year, this option may not be practical.

2. Withdraw from the TPPA.

We simply cannot be party to an international trade agreement (or any other agreement for that matter) where “some people are going to pay with their lives”. That is simply untenable – especially for a Labourled government.

The seriousness of the TPPA’s effects on Pharmac (and non-subsidised medicines) is such that Labour must not be allowed to back-track on it’s criticisms, and has a duty to  withdraw from this appalling “trade” agreement.

If “some people are going to pay with their lives because … they extend the patent, particularly on drugs for cancer and heart disease”, then the TPPA must go. No New Zealander’s life is worth a “trade” agreement, no matter how much milk-powder we might sell overseas.

National ministers such as John Key, Tim Groser, Bill English, et al, have consistently, unashamedly, lied to us over the years. I do not expect Labour to follow in those footsteps.

This will be an issue I will be following, and I will be relentless in pursuing it, post-2017 (or earlier).

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TPPA action 8 august 2015

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Wednesday, August 12
at 12:00pm
New Zealand Parliament Buildings
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Friday, August 14
at 5:00pm
Palmerston North City Library
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Saturday, August 15
at 1:00pm
Midland Park, Lambton Quay
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Saturday, August 15
at 1:00pm
Napier
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Saturday, August 15
at 1:00pm
Timaru
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Saturday, August 15
at 11:00am
Kohukohu Village Green

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Saturday, August 15
at 1:00pm
School of Dentistry, Great King Street, Dunedin (near the Museum)
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References

Interest.co.nz: Pharmac fundamentals not on TPP table, Trade Minister Groser

Parliament: Hansards – 5. Trans-Pacific Partnership – Forecast Economic Benefits, Potential Effect on Pharmac, and Investor-State Dispute Provisions

Scoop media/TV1: Tim Groser adamant Trans-Pacific Partnership good for NZ

Radio NZ: Medicines ‘won’t cost more under TPP’

TV3: The Nation – Transcript – Trade Minister Tim Groser

Radio NZ:  TPP – Key admits medicine costs will rise

Radio NZ: Govt warned TPP could put lives at risk

National Party: About National

Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Letter to the editor – More reassurances from our esteemed Dear Leader?

Action

Facebook: Lunchtime rally against TPPA WELLINGTON

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

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Trust me fellow kiwis - John Key

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 August 2015.

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Letter to the editor – More useless reassurances from our Dear Leader

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date: Wed, Jul 29, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
NZ Herald

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Admissions by our esteemed Prime Minister that the TPPA will impact on Pharmac’s ability to source cheap, generic medicines from overseas, are deeply troubling.

On 25 July, Trade Minister, Tim Groser, said;

“…yes, I can guarantee that we’ve made it absolutely clear that we are not going to dismantle the fundamental of Pharmac. The provisions that guarantee affordable medicines – we don’t want to change the system of health we’ve got in our country so that people can get medicines only if they can afford it. We’ve got a very good system, and we’re not going to let any trade agreement interfere with that.”

Three days later, Key conceded;

“That means the Government will have to pay for the original drug rather than the generic for a little bit longer. But for consumers that won’t make any difference because, you know, on subsidised drugs you pay $5 for your prescription so the Government may incur slightly more costs there.”

It is not the government that ” will have to pay for the original drug rather than the generic for a little bit longer”. That honour falls on the taxpayer.

Those extra costs may be reimbursed by the government – at the expense of other health services which will see their budgets slashed. National has a track record of shifting money around in the Health Budget.

Will National increase prescription charges again, as they did in 2013? Increasing prescription charges from $3 to $5 hit poor families the hardest.

The secretive nature of negotiations have proven that there was good reason to be suspicious of the TPPA.

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-Frank Macskasy

 

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[Address and phone numbr supplied]


 

References

Radio NZ:  TPP – Key admits medicine costs will rise

TV3: The Nation – Transcript – Trade Minister Tim Groser

Previous related blogposts

Children’s Health: not a high priority for Health Minister Tony Ryall

 


 

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Letter to the editor – More reassurances from our esteemed Dear Leader?

29 July 2015 3 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: Wed, Jul 29, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The Editor
The Listener

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Recent admission by our esteemed Prime Minister that the TPPA will likely see an increase in pharmaceutical costs for Pharmac is both disturbing but unsurprising. The secretive nature of the TPPA negotiations hinted at a “sting in the tail” that would impact on our healthcare.

On 25 July, Foreign Trade Minister, Tim Groser, promised hand on heart in an interview on ‘The Nation’;

“…yes, I can guarantee that we’ve made it absolutely clear that we are not going to dismantle the fundamental of Pharmac. The provisions that guarantee affordable medicines – we don’t want to change the system of health we’ve got in our country so that people can get medicines only if they can afford it. We’ve got a very good system, and we’re not going to let any trade agreement interfere with that.”

But only three days later, Key conceded;

“That means the Government will have to pay for the original drug rather than the generic for a little bit longer. But for consumers that won’t make any difference because, you know, on subsidised drugs you pay $5 for your prescription so the Government may incur slightly more costs there.”

Key’s assurances are questionable.

It should be pointed out that it is not Government that “will have to pay for the original drug rather than the generic for a little bit longer” – it is the taxpayer.

That extra cost for medicines will have to come from the Health Budget and one has to ask what will be cut back? Hip operations for the elderly? Grommets for children? Eye cataract surgery for the blind? National has a track record for shifting money from one area of healthcare to another, to appear as if funding has been “increased” for the lucky recipient.

Or will National simply increase prescription charges to cover increased pharmaceutical costs for Pharmac? National has already increased prescription charges from $3 to $5 in 2013 – a move that impacted on the sickest, poorest, and most vulnerable in this country.

Not for one moment do I accept Key’s assurances on this issue. He has gone back on his word before, and I expect him to do it again.

-Frank Macskasy

 

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[address and phone number supplied]


 

References

Radio NZ:  TPP – Key admits medicine costs will rise

TV3: The Nation – Transcript – Trade Minister Tim Groser

Previous related blogposts

Children’s Health: not a high priority for Health Minister Tony Ryall


 

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toby morris - tppa - cartoon

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Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

15 November 2014 6 comments

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scaling the heights of  capitalism

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NZ, Wellington, 8 November 2014 – Wellington basked in a beautiful summers’ day with nary a breeze and only a few clouds in a clear, blue sky. The sort of summer day that we keenly await after months of gloomy autumnal and  wintry grey skies, constant dampness, and chilling air. On Saturday, as the bleak months were left behind, approximately two thousand citizens gathered and filled the precinct of Wellington’s Cuba Mall, from one end to the other;

 

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Sandra Gray (in green shirt), Senior Lecturer School of Social and Cultural Studies at Victoria University and National President of the  Tertiary Education Union, addressed the growing crowd of assembled Wellingtonians and many others from further afield;

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There was a wide assorted of signs, most of which had been hand-made in the traditional Kiwi style of DIY…

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… whilst others had been pre-prepared for the event, and handed out to those who wished to make their feelings about the TPPA clear to the government;

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Others yet were even more imaginative and colourful – whilst still clear in their opposition to the TPPA;

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Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement - TPPA - protest - Wellington - Cuba Mall - 8 november 2014

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The marchers made their way through the streets of Wellington’s shopping precinct, behind this banner;

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The marchers walked a short distance from Cuba Mall to Wellington’s Civic Centre, an open, paved-space, bordered by the Town Hall, Council Offices, Central Library, and City Gallery;

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… and they kept coming;

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Until most of the the Civic Square was filled;

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Sandra explained why this march had ended at Wellington’s Civic Square instead of Parliament;

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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A little bit of an explanation as to why we are here and not at Parliament…

Because for a start, they’re not there. Because they’re away doing other things. But, we’re
here because TPPA groups around the country are asking our councils; our local councillors
to actually take a stand, to stand with New Zealanders to oppose the TPPA, to express their
concerns.

So we’re here to tell the Wellington city Council, the Wellington Regional Council,
Porirua, Hutt, that TPPA NO WAY!

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Some macabre street theatre;

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The Mana Party’s presence was still very much in evidence;

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More not-so-ordinary Wellingtonians, with their home-made placards expressing discontent at government secrecy and signing away our sovereign rights;

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This fellow’s message was blunt, short, and very much to-the-point;

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The many faces of  opposition to National’s ideological crusade to empower multinational corporations at our expense;

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Former Green MP and Wellington City Councillor, Sue Kedgley, addressed the protesters;

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Ms Kedgley said,

The government is pretending that the Trans pacific partnership is all about
making trade more free. But do not be fooled –the real purpose of the trans
pacific partnership is very simple –it is to give multinational corporations vastly
more power and influence over local and central government so that they can
prevent governments from implementing any policy that might restrict their
investments or lose them money.

In particular, the treaty will give multinational corporations a new right to sue
governments if they introduce any policy or regulation that could lose them
money or affect their investments; and the lawsuits they would bring against our
government, or against local government, would be heard in secret, off shore
tribunals that would bypass our judicial system and override our parliament.

This new right to sue governments would mean that corporations could
endlessly obstruct and delay any new policy they objected to –a capital gains tax,
for example, fracking laws or more stringent food safety laws. You name it.

It would also allow corporations to challenge a raft of existing environmental and
food safety and other regulations that have been made in the public interest, on
the grounds that they amounted to a barrier to trade, should therefore be
removed.

It would enable them to argue, for example, that our already pitifully weak food
labelling laws amounted to a barrier to trade, and should be removed.

It would enable them to sue the government if it attempted to tighten our
pitifully weak alcohol laws, on the grounds that this would lose them money.

They could argue that our strong regulations around genetically modified foods
amount to a barrier to trade and should be removed –the list is endless.

Future governments would face the constant threat of expensive litigation from
multinational corporations, and this would make them reluctant to put in place
any policies that multinational corporations objected to.

And we are not talking about some future theoretical threat –it is already
happening around the world, as a result so called free trade agreements like the
tppa.

Australia is being sued by multinational corporations for introducing plain
packaging on cigarettes.

Canada is being sued by corporations because the Quebec province imposed a
moratorium on fracking. The Mexican government was sued by Cargills when it
tried to limit the import of high fructose corn.

And El Salvador and other Latin American governments are being sued for
refusing to grant mining licenses to various corporations.

This is what would happen to us, if our government signs up to the trans pacific
partnership. Future governments would live under the constant threat of
litigation, and of crippling lawsuits, if it introduced any policy, or passed any law,
that multinational corporations object to.

And so the trans pacific partnership would undermine the ability of our
government, and of local government, to act in the public interest.

It would weaken environmental protection laws, food safety laws, labour laws
and health and safety laws.

It would rig the international economy in favour of multinational corporations
and it would effectively place corporations above sovereign governments and
make multinational corporations more powerful than governments.

That’s why we must oppose it with all our might.

As with all speakers, the audience clapped and cheered. It was evident that the assembled people were well versed in the issues surrounding the TPPA and how it’s clauses might affect us personally, and the future of our country.

In between speakers, singer-entertainer Matt Pike belted out protest songs from the 1960s/70s – songs  that seemed even more relevant now, than forty years years ago;

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Sandra introduced Ariana, from the Wellington TPPA Action Group;

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Ariana said,

The TPPA is not free trade. It is slave trade. It is effectively a Bill of Rights for multi-
national corporations like big pharmaceuticals and the oil and gas industry…

Once they they get a strangehold it will be extremely difficult to stop the tidal wave of
oppression from corporate control. We have to stop this TPPA. It is an international
agreement that is [only] a handful of officials in MFAT and the Executive in Cabinet. They can
ratify this agreement and it will be sent to Parliament to be rubber stamped.

It can be ratified and signed off on our behalf without having to go to the whole Parliament
or even a Select Committee.

This is not democracy!

The only way we can stop this is to do actions like this…

We have a twelve point resolution that says to our [local body] Councillors, our elected
representatives, that we want you to sign this to safeguard your ability to act in our public
interest…

We call on our elected representatives to make sure that they sign the resolution that will
go to government that says that Don’t you dare sign an agreement that will stop us from being
able to regulate in the public interest!

 

Ariana pointed out a tent where people were already lining up to sign petitions addressed to Councils in Wellington, Hutt City, Upper Hutt, and Porirua;

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The media, in evidence (though Radio NZ under-estimated numbers by a whopping 100%);

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Hannah from Oil Free Wellington had this to say on the TPPA;

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Hannah embodied the passion of her generation as she explained the dangers of the TPPA,

As you’re well aware the TPPA is not about trade. It’s about corporate control and
having careless powers take control over our workers rights, over our health care,
over our country, and over our environment.

If the TPPA is signed, it means bad news for all us Kiwis who oppose deep sea drilling,
fracking, and all the other methods of fossil fuel extraction.

This is the government that has passed legislation that makes the right to protest at
sea illegal – undercutting a core civil liberty of a democratic society.

Despite the countless numbers of you, and people like you, who have protested on the
streets and at sea to stop deep sea drilling, it still happens.

The National government have classified deep sea drilling as low risk, and clean
technology like solar panels as high risk. This clearly backward thinking is further
proof that the TPPA is not needed here. We have enough trouble keeping our own
government from decimating our environment.

http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2014/11/questions-and-answers-november-6/

A recent case of Shell’s drilling without permission off our coast with no prosecution
from the EPA shows just how many of these so-called protection institutions, both
international and in New Zealand, are already in corporate pockets.

With the trade partnership in place this will get even worse, as corporate powers
will be legally able to do this and get away with it.

You might have heard about the gold mine lawsuit in Costa Rica. After their
government refused Infinito Gold permission to mine protected land, Infinito then
came back and under a trade agreement like the TPP, sued the country of Costa Rica
for protecting a nature preserve on the basis that it was cutting into their profits.
That there were “violating” their trade agreement with Canada.

This is just one example. Mexico, El Salvador, and Vietnam are just a few more places
who have faced the axe trying to protect their rights and their land.

As you all know deep sea drilling puts our environment at risk. But oil spills are
not the only danger. By allowing deep sea drilling to happen in our waters, we are
allowing the continued use of fossil fuels top exacerbate the effects of climate
change.

Climate change is serious. Hundreds of renowned individuals and well known
organisations around the globe have testified to this and governments like our own
continue to do nothing. We have substantial proof that with an increase in global
temperatures the lives of people worldwide will become significantly harder, with
more natural disasters, droughts, and food shortages to namne a few. In the last
thirtyfour years, globate climate has raised nearly one degree.

And just how many hundred year storms have we had in New Zealand, over the last few
years alone? Tragic events like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, 2013. Do you
remember Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, in 2005?

As the human race burns more fossil fuels, we push the climate even closer to
destabilising. Those who will be hit the hardest are those in poor and
non-democratic countries due to their extreme inability to cope with disaster. But
New Zealanders will still face the axe.

The people who want us to sign the TPPA do not care about hardship. They know
none, protected by their filthy money. If the TPPA is signed, we will like see an
increase in drilling, mining, fracking, and other envionmentally devastating
industrial practices. When there are oil spills, pollution, and toxic waste to
deal with the National Government will not help. They have proven themselves
incapable of both caring, and action. And because of the TPPA, those same companies
who cause so much harm will get off scott free, and do it again and again and again.

Oil Free Wellington are absolutely against the TPPA. New Zealanders everywhere are
against the TPPA and together we will not let this happen. We will fight to protect
our rights, our country and our environment.

Next up – Greg Rzesniowiecki (aka gregfullmoon) of the Motueka Renewables and TPP Action;

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Greg explained what local bodies around the country had determined on the issue of the TPPA and how it would impact on their communities;

Once again we come together in response to the Free Trade and Investment Agreement
agenda. Those promoting Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA or TPP) aim to
bind us to rules promoting corporation interests. This does not address our needs.

Our needs are for a sustainable and resilient state that protects and enhances
our quality of life. It is plain common sense.

Our civilisation in the West and New Zealand is becoming increasingly greedy and
focused on individual outcomes at the cost of community well-being.

This is clear with Central Government’s removal of the 4 Well-beings from the 2002
Local Government Act purposes in its 2012. The 4 Well-beings required that government’s
purpose was to ensure the social, economic, environmental and cultural well being.

This removal is theft! Consider the implication.

Central Government ignored the submissions of our local government sector, all Councils
who submitted, including the peak body Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ); and the
New Zealand Human Rights Commission. All said to Central Government to leave the well
beings intact.

Why is this done to our Councils and local government sector? The Free Trade Agreement
agenda is all about profit. The 4 well-beings are about beneficial social outcomes.

We TPP Action seek a beneficial social outcome for Aotearoa – New Zealand. Our initiative
was lead by Nelson TPP Action who adopted as a campaign strategy, the TPP policy
formula from Auckland Council. They lobbied their Council, who adopted the policy in July
2013. Motueka Renewables led the lobby before Tasman District Council who made their
decision in March 2014. Then we wrote every Council promoting our TPP policy.

To date Auckland, Nelson, Tasman, Christchurch and Dunedin Councils have supported our
full TPP policy formula. Others have supported variations.

TPP Action have made presentations in public forums to many other Councils; Invercargill
City Council, Southland Regional Council, Clutha District Council, Wellington City
Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Kapiti Coast District Council, and Hutt City
Council, where we were part of the formal agenda of that Council’s City Development
Committee agenda item 3a, Thursday 16th October 2014.

The latest news from Napier. Thursday 6th November saw local TPP Action in Napier
present to their City Council. We now wait to see what that council will do with their
request for TPP to be considered formally by the Council.

In addition to this TPP Action in the regions lobbied the following Councils who have
expressed concern about TPP. Greater Wellington Regional, Palmerston North City,
Horizons Regional, Horowhenua District, and Wanganui District Councils have adopted
various TPP policy formulas directing NZ negotiators to look after the Kiwi public interest.

The solution to TPP is an agreement that protects and advances the community’s public
interest. The large South Island councils at Christchurch and Dunedin Cities agree and in
August they both supported our TPP policy formula. The decision at Christchurch was
unanimous and further they requested that Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) do
likewise. Other councils have indicated that they support LGNZ adopting a TPP policy.
For this to be the correct policy, we actively encourage them to protect and enhance our
interests. We do this by sharing with other communities, informing them and encouraging
them to lobby their councils to agree to our TPP policy.

The current focus is the Wellington region’s councils. TPP Action are working to gain the
support of the; Wellington City, Hutt City and Upper Hutt City, Porirua City, Kapiti Coast
District, and the Greater Wellington Regional Councils. In addition to presenting to
councils we have held public meetings and will be doing more.

New Zealand’s TND negotiators must be made to understand that any deal they negotiate is
a dead duck unless it protects and enhances our public interest. Our TPP policy is the only
story. Only you in community with others, can ensure your interest is protected. Share the
story with everyone.

We hold a vision. A sovereign state acting for the welfare of its inhabitants, seas, waterways
and land.

After Greg’s rousing speech, Matt gave another performance with his protest-style songs – this time,  Were Not Gonna Take It. The chorus was perfect for the crowd to join in and the Square shook with the reverberations of,

 

OH WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT !!
NO, WE AIN’T GONNA TAKE IT !!
OH WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE !!

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Overheard from someone in the crowd, “How come there are never any big protests in support of the TPPA”?

Why not indeed. Because these folk seem mightily opposed to it;

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After Greg, Gay Keating,  member of OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council  advised how proposed  trade agreements set regulations into historical concrete, making it almost impossible to respond to new issues and problems as they arise;

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Kay’s speech was short – but packed no lesser ‘punch’  for the warnings it contained for us all;

Kia ora koutou Nga Mihi Nui koutou

There’s two different aspect about health.

One is that when you get sick or injured. Really important that we have affordable
healthcare for everyone.

But the other things is that you want to avoid getting sick or injured in the first place.

The TPPA puts both of those sets of things at risk.

We need to start off with protections for a Safe and Healthy environment, covering food,
water, workplace safety. We also need to control dangerous products – everything from
tobacco to making sure of safety standards for baby cots.

Trade agreements threaten health at all of these points.

In terms of Affordable health care, New Zealand’s drug buying agency PHARMAC could get
hit in at least three different ways by TPPA. Clearly, affordable healthcare does not
suit big business. Under TPPA either the drug bill will go up – or only the rich will
be able to afford medicines.

What about keeping safe and well?

Big Tobacco sells a lethal product – but Big Tobacco is using a trade agreement in
Australia trying to keep young people hooked.

Where Big Tobacco goes, Big Junk Food, Big Baby Formula, and Big Alcohol are close behind.

Big Mining makes water too toxic for humans – but Big Mining are using a trade agreement
in Latin America to keep on polluting.

And of course, the most important health threat of our century, way bigger than Ebola,
that’s climate change. Big Fossil Fuel will not be shy to use a trade agreement to keep
on burning carbon.

Don’t just take my word for it – Get a second opinion.

Yesterday the NZ Medical Association published their concern about the trade agreement
and health. Earlier we’ve had the Australian and even the American Medical Associations
say the trade agreement is bad for health.

World Health Organisation say these trade agreements are handcuffs on governments. The
WHO opposes the way agreements that support toxic trade undermine health. These sort
of trade agreements are a health hazard. Doctors, nurses, midwives, health promoters all
say – NO WAY TPPA!

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The protest ended on an upbeat, positive note and people crowded around the petition tent.  Councils in the Greater Wellington Region would soon be receiving petitions from their citizens.

The campaign against the TPPA – like a previous campaign in the 1980s against atomic weapons – would be shifted to the local level.

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TPPA Explained in Three Minutes

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References

Scoop Media: Parliament – Questions and Answers – November 6

NZ Herald: Oil wells drilled without consent – Greens

The Council of Canadians: Message to Canada’s Infinito Gold – Drop your outrageous billion-dollar lawsuit against Costa Rica!

Mainstream media reports

Fairfax Media: Marches against TPPA trade deal

Radio NZ: Thousands of NZers rally against TPPA

TV3 News: Protesters rally against TPPA

TV1 News: Thousands rally against trade agreement

Scoop Media: Thousands of Kiwis plan National Day of Action against TPPA

NZ Herald: Thousands gather to protest trade agreement

Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

Other Blogs

On the Left: TPPA – The monster in our future

The Daily Blog: Anti-TPPA march from above

The Standard: Marching in the streets

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

 

 

 


 

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TPPA thuggery

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 November 2014

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